Scary Tarot

Scary Tarot: The Card That Shakes Things Up

The Tower asks us to challenge long-held beliefs

Sasha Duncan
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readSep 12, 2019
Photo: DEA/G. DAGLI ORTI/Getty Images

InIn the 15th century, a deck of cards called tarocchi emerged in Northern Italy, the very same region my ancestors descended from. This cosmic coincidence didn’t occur to me when I got my first download in Tarot knowledge at age nine, from a Romani-descended family friend — I was simply focused on learning a new card game, one with much higher stakes than Hearts or Crazy Eights.

Of course, tarocchi — or as it’s now called, the Tarot — isn’t an idle game. The cards help us gaze into our futures and selves. Whether they were introduced to the Italians by Romani (as they were similarly introduced to me) or evolved from Islamic or Kabbalist roots, no one knows. Regardless of their true origin, they remain a favorite divinatory tool of seers, mystics, and witches around the world.

In my two decades learning, researching, and performing readings with the Tarot, I’ve come to identify a subset of the cards as the “Scary Tarot.” Eight cards whose presence tends to provoke a visceral, negative reaction in those I’m reading for, and sometimes even in myself. But with witches waking and paradigms shifting, it’s time to unpack, redefine, and celebrate all facets of the cards — and ourselves. Even the “scary” bits.

The Tower arrives this week — not with a whimper, but with a bang.

Illustration: Lisa Sterle || Modern Witch Tarot

Lightning strikes a cobbled tower, igniting flames and quaking its foundations. A crown flies from its top as two figures plummet to the rocks below — but whether they’ve fallen or thrown themselves to escape the wreckage is up to you.

We all build Towers. You might have a Pillar to the Perfect Person, or a Belfry of the Boy You Can’t Have. You might erect Spires of Self-Worth, or find yourself constructing Fortresses of Financial Woe. Perhaps you’ve even confined yourself within Columns of Creative Limitation.

Each Tower you build represents one of the many theses of your intrinsic belief system.



Sasha Duncan
Human Parts

Offering wisdom and ramblings from my own stumbles, bumbles, fumbles and grumbles